Sunday, 20 February 2011

Spring Cleaning & Ringing the Changes

Great White Charger
It's mid February, a little early for spring cleaning perhaps, and I know I should already be in the thick of getting the Great White Charger fit for what is likely to be his last season (or two). I have to confess to handing over that responsibility to the yard staff due to work commitments, although I did manage to go galloping for some film work last week. Although I haven't had a great deal of time to ride I have managed to keep myself fit by cycling and walking a fair bit, both at home and whilst away on trips abroad.

I'm clearly not alone in all of this as I notice a number of google search terms bringing people to my blog along the lines of "getting an event horse fit" popping up, and indeed, as you might expect a few articles across the web touching on the same subject.

Crocuses Are Out - Spring is a-coming
There has been the odd day so far this year where Spring is clearly in the air and it's this that gets me all fired up and excited! The crocuses are out, the UK eventing season is just around the corner, the media is full of Badminton first timer blogs (which this year I have to say "good luck on getting in", the entry list is bound to be littered with WEG Medalists and no end of championship level talent!), and there is generally an air of "all change please, all change".

Quite apart from the excitements of working on a 'turnaround business' and the prospect of a US acquisition, I've been doing quite a lot of spring cleaning, and ringing some changes in my personal life too, most of which is has been thoroughly enjoyable, and dare I say it, 'exciting'.

Yogi | Staying Put
This year in particular we seem to be seeing a lot more "ringing the changes" whether it's horses changing hands, unexpectedly being offered for sale, Chef d'Equipes swapping flags, or owners switching allegiance. All of this is possibly due to the fact the Olympics are coming and for the first time in living memory [for me at least] they're being held in the greatest eventing nation of them all, the UK. Which, incidentally, reminds me that the modern day sport started here in the UK, with the inception of Badminton Horse Trials, just after the last London Olympics in 1948 [useless related trivia].

I may venture into event horse ownership myself, particularly if there is a shot at the olympics, and have a number of options currently on the table (including a new option about to come on the market), none of which are based with GBR riders so I'll be interested to see if I get calls from any UK selectors!

I don't think I've seen so many changes to team coaches in such a short space of time as we have in the last few months, and perhaps there are a few more to come before the season here gets underway, who knows. All this chatter about team training and the changes of team coaches has got me thinking about what separates the best from the very best, and with this mind over the coming weeks I have a few interviews lined up that I hope will help answer a few aspects of this, and also provide a little insight into what we can expect to see over the coming months, as riders set out their stall in a bid to get selected for London 2012.

Vicarage Vee (unfinished)
One stablising feature of this coming spring is bound to be the inclusion of the famous Vicarage Vee  at Badminton. This iconic fence in its many guises is always more a rider frightener than a horse frightener, and I'm sure with such a talented field likely to attend this year, it won't prove a 'bogey' fence. It will be one of the best places to spectate from though, as there are a number of other fences close by.

Whilst the Willis Bros. are just getting into Badminton mode, working on this year's cross country course, across the pond in Florida, elsewhere in the deep south, and on the far reaches of the west coast in California, the Americans are already in full swing with a handful of big events underway and attracting the big guns out, in-spite of the hard ground. With a few more trips planned to the land of the free, I hope to take in one or two extra US events myself, although firmly planted on 2 feet not 4.

So my main focus for this year will be getting round a few more events, and my current 'day job' commitments mean I have the opportunity to see a few more foreign ones that I might otherwise not get to. Of course the need desire to run the Great White Charger in a one or two of my favourite events is a consideration too, so without looking at the dates in the calendar I'll be aiming him for Hambleden, Highclere and little Gatcombe probably, and possibly another in June or July, work permitting.

I can't wait!

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